With Rangers and Maribor both progressing to the next stage of Europa League qualifying, we now know that should we win the next tie we’ll be seeded for the final playoff round. Of the unseeded teams, we’ll face the winners of one of the following games:
Rapid Wien vs Slovan Bratislava
Red Bull Leipzig vs Universitea Craiova
Partizan Belgrade vs Nordsjaelland
Burnley vs İstanbul Başakşehir
Rijeka vs Strapsborg
Subotica vs Brondby
Atalanta vs Hapoel Haifa
Bordeaux vs Mariupol
Kairat vs Sigma Olomouc
Sturm Graz vs AEK Larnaca
Ufa vs Progres Niederkorn
Apollon Limassol vs Dinamo Brest
All in all, it looks like a much harder set of teams than last year, where the unseeded section of the playoff round was populated by some right jobbers. There aren’t many gimmes here - most of the real diddies are up against decent teams who should see them off quite handily, and there are some teams with vastly superior resources to ourselves in there, like Bordeaux, Atalanta, Burnley and Red Bull Leipzig.
Probably the best draw we could hope for is the winner of Kairat vs Sigma Olomouc, although Limassol vs Brest, Rijeka vs Strapsborg, and Rapid Wien vs Slovan Bratislava should also give us a very winnable game. The rest is going to range from tricky to extremely difficult. We might be seeded, but unfortunately this year it’s only making the job marginally easier - and of course we could still end up against a very good outfit from a big league.
On the other hand, it would be quite funny to see Burnley have to make another trip to “Fookin Scotlund????” yet again only to get duly humped after playing a real side, so there is that. Bring it on.